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House GOP Seeks to Cut Aid for Literacy, STEM Education

Republican leaders in the House have released a proposal to eliminate funding for a variety of federal education programs, including ones focused on adolescent literacy, math and science education, and teaching U.S. history.

For the big picture on what's happening, check out my colleague Alyson Klein's excellent blog post over at Politics K-12.

The news comes as President Obama, in yet another effort to show his keen interest in advancing education in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, is planning tomorrow to unveil his new federal budget request at a STEM-focused public school in Baltimore County, Md. One element of that plan is expected to be a federal effort to recruit 100,000 new STEM teachers over the next decade.

Now, back to the proposed cuts from Republicans, who after the recent elections reclaimed a majority in the House. It's important to note that these cuts would come to the budget for the current fiscal year (2011), which began Oct. 1. Congress never approved a budget for the year, and so the federal government has been operating under a series of stopgap measures. Meanwhile, President Obama is gearing up to submit his budget request for fiscal 2012.

Anyway, House Republicans, as part of their agenda to dramatically cut back federal spending and reduce the deficit, are targeting a wide range of programs at the U.S. Department of Education. Among the programs targeted for elimination are quite a number connected to curriculum matters:

Striving Readers: $250 million;

Mathematics and Science Partnership: $180 million;

Even Start Family Literacy program: $66.5 million;

Improving Literacy Through School Libraries: $19 million;

Foriegn Language Assistance: $26.9 million

• The National Writing Project: $25.6 million; and

Teaching American History: $119 million.

I should note that President Obama, in the budget he proposed last year, called for consolidating many of these same programs into three broader competitive funds focused on "effective teaching and learning" in literacy, STEM, and a catch-all category dubbed a "well-rounded education." The Republican plan, however, would abolish those programs outright without creating any new funding streams under which such activities might receive federal support.

Overall, the Republican plan would reduce spending at the Education Department by nearly $5 billion, when compared with the fiscal 2010 final budget of some $64 billion.

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